A DWI arrest can have a significant impact on your life, especially if you have never been in trouble with the law before. People are often surprised when they are stopped on suspicion of DWI even though they have not been drinking. In many cases, a police officer is responding to certain driving behaviors or other indicators that suggest there might be drunk driving, even if that turns out not to be the case.
Know the Rules of the Road
Obviously, a police officer cannot know for sure if a driver is intoxicated without direct evidence, such as a breath or blood test. But all Houston-area law enforcement officers are trained to look for certain signs of impaired driving. First and foremost, an officer is looking for any sign of erratic or unusual driving that does not comply with state and local traffic laws.
Here are a few examples of driving behaviors that may lead an officer to suspect drunk driving:
- Swerving, weaving, or zig-zagging across a road;
- Suddenly speeding up or slowing down while in traffic;
- Stopping or braking suddenly and without cause (i.e., not at a stop signal);
- Failing to consistently and properly use turn signals;
- Making any kind of illegal turn, such as a prohibited U-turn or crossing a median;
- Failing to use headlights during night time or hazardous driving conditions;
- Nearly striking the curb, a pedestrian, or another vehicle;
- Driving on the wrong side of the road;
- Driving outside of a designated roadway; and
- Driving more than 10 miles below the posted speed limit.
Any or all of these actions may give a police officer reasonable suspicion to stop you. The officer will then look for any evidence to confirm a suspicion of DWI, such as the smell of alcohol on your breath, bloodshot eyes, or slurred speech. The officer will also likely ask you to exit your vehicle and consent to a field sobriety test.
Drive Safe and Stay Safe in Houston or Galveston
The best way to avoid an unnecessary and unjustified DUI stop is to maintain safe driving practices. Avoid the erratic behaviors listed above, and in general make sure you obey all traffic laws. While it often tempting to take shortcuts–e.g., running a red light when you think nobody is watching–it is not worth it if you are stopped by an overzealous police officer looking to pin a DWI charge on you.
And if you are stopped and arrested, your next step should be to contact an experienced League City DWI defense attorney who can advise you of your rights. Contact the criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates if you need to speak with an attorney immediately.